Posts Tagged ‘Olympics’

Olympic Stadium of the First Modern Olympics

November 14, 2019

Wednesday three weeks ago in Athens, trip up Lycabettas Hill as the sun was setting, a descent in the dark, I was lost, not a clue where I was.

I ended up at Ohh Boy, asked to use their wifi.

It was only when passing Olympic Stadium of the First Modern Olympics I realised where I was.

Panathenaic Stadium, the Old Olympic Stadium in Athens Greece, hosted the first modern games in 1896.

it is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble.

A stadium was built on the site of a simple racecourse by the Athenian statesman Lykourgos (Lycurgus) c. 330 BC, primarily for the Panathenaic Games.

It was rebuilt in marble by Herodes Atticus, an Athenian Roman senator, by 144 AD and had a capacity of 50,000 seats.

After the rise of Christianity in the 4th century it was largely abandoned.

The stadium was excavated in 1869 and hosted the Zappas Olympics in 1870 and 1875. After being refurbished, it hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics in 1896 and was the venue for 4 of the 9 contested sports. It was used for various purposes in the 20th century and was once again used as an Olympic venue in 2004.

It is the finishing point for the annual Athens Classic Marathon. It is also the last venue in Greece from where the Olympic flame handover ceremony to the host nation takes place.

Guildford Craft Festival and Farmers Market

July 3, 2012
wooden ducks in a basket

wooden ducks in a basket

Guildford Craft Festival in the High Street in Guildford is part of the Guildford Summer Festival.

Today is the first Tuesday of the month, and the Guildford Craft Festival was joined by the Guildford Farmers Market.

The market stalls far outnumbered the craft stalls. On Friday, when the Guildford Craft Festival opened (the dates in the festival programme are incorrect) there was far more stalls. Whether they have given up as a bad job, or do not like the weather, I do not know. I should have asked.

On Friday there was one or two stalls worth looking at, and that was it. I would not go as far as calling it tat, but not worth spending money on either.

One stall had lovely carved wood, another wooden ducks in a basket. Not there today or if they were, I did not see.

I do not think any of the stall holders were helped by being relocated to different pitches than they had on Friday.

The farmers market used to be forced to a different day when the craft market was on. This was ludicrous as they simply lost business as everyone knows the farmers market is always the first Tuesday of the month.

This is the best time of the year for the farmers market, now and into the autumn, as plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Plus it is no fun wandering around the market in the winter when it is cold and wet.

June 2012, the wettest June since records began in 1910. The second dullest June.

July seems no exception. Today 3 July and it has been raining since the month began.

I had a choice of two venues this evening. Annoying that they clashed. Art @ Costa or Eden People at The Keystone. Assuming they were on as nothing on twitter, I ended up going to neither, as I did not fancy hanging around in the rain for a couple of hours.

Talking to friends in the Tourist Information in the Guildford House Art Gallery, I learnt of a third venue that I was not aware of. On the main road opposite the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre (past Debenhams) what used to be dance studio and for a brief period a night club, a new venue has opened Bar des Arts. This evening poetry, a Spanish-Colombian quintet Muerto de Amor and rap (the thought of rap immediately put me off).

Pop Up Poetry is a group of poets and poetry lovers. All events are free. I hope that in future they arrange their night not to clash with Art @ Costa (always first Tuesday of the month, Costa, Swan Lane).

Friday at Bar des Arts Latin Caribbean evening with music and dance sounds good. But Friday night not a good night to be on the streets in Guildford. The town centre becomes a no go area of drunken thugs looking for trouble.

The website for Bar des Arts is poorly designed, light grey on dark grey background, virtually illegible. No information on forthcoming events. The pull down menu for contacts drops off the bottom of the screen.

Looking through the festival programme (obtain from Tourist Information Office) I could find nothing I fancied, though at least they do host a festival. It runs from 1 June until 1 July 2012.

One of the ‘highlights’ will be the Olympic Torch passing through Guildford, sponsored by Coca-Cola!

There is an extra farmers market on Saturday 28 July 2012. Only a few days before the next one on Tuesday 1 August 2012. They have been repeatedly told if you are to hold an extra market then make it mid-month, midway between the monthly Tuesday markets, not hold them a few days apart, but sadly no one is listening.

The highlight of the summer festival was the Ambient Picnic, a free alternative music festival. It went downhill and seems to have died. The last one at Celebrating Surrey at Loseley Park a couple of years ago was not worth the effort of attending. A crying shame as it was a very good festival.

Top Story in The Digital Mission Daily (Saturday 7 July 2012).

No 1 Top Story in The Digital Mission Daily (Monday 9 July 2012).

London 2012 Olympics sweatshop misery

June 1, 2012

For Londoners, the London 2012 Olympics will be a summer of misery. Their misery is as nought to those working in the sweatshops who supply the goods.

Workers making Olympic sportswear for London 2012 for top brands and high street names including Adidas and Next are being paid poverty wages, forced to work excessive overtime and threatened with instant dismissal if they complain about working conditions.

A worker at an Adidas Olympics supplier factory in the Philippines, working on minimum wage for 10 years without a pay-rise:

We are forced to take overtime work so at least it supplements our take-home pay. Otherwise, how can I survive with such meagre income, how can I pay rent for the small room where I stay, cope with my daily necessities, and send some money for my family in the province? At the end of the day it is zero balance; there are no savings left for whatever uncertain things may happen to me and my family.

A few examples of the continued systematic and widespread exploitation of workers in sportswear factories:

  • Poverty wages were found across the board. In Sri Lanka, some workers have to survive on around £1.78 a day, little above the UN’s official poverty line, and only 25% of the amount needed for a living wage, enabling workers to live in dignity. In the Philippines, 50% of workers were forced to pawn their ATM cards to loan sharks for pay day loans to get them through the month.
  • Workers had legal benefits systematically denied to them by repeated use of short term contracts. Employers used these to avoid paying social insurance including pensions, sick leave and maternity benefits.
  • Workers were forced to perform overtime under threat of losing their jobs.
  • In all 10 factories there was no recognised union or credible workers’ representatives, meaning workers had no voice on pay and conditions. In China workers were threatened with job losses for distributing leaflets that could ‘hamper employer-employee relationships; and in the Philippines all workers interviewed said that they were scared to join a union as they would lose their jobs.
  • Living conditions showed the poverty levels experienced by workers. Chinese workers shared cramped and overcrowded rooms with hot water only available after 23:00, when their shift finished.

Those making the consumer junk, the mascots and toys, fare no better.

A worker at a Chinese sweatshop making London 2012 mascots:

Consumers may feel the Olypmic mascots are fun and cute, they will never think of the hard work, low wages…..we have in the factory.

A few examples of working conditions in two factories in China producing the Olympic mascots, Wenlock and Manderville, and London 2012 pin-badges:

  • Poverty pay, in some cases below the legal minimum, where workers were not paid enough to cover their most basic needs, and benefit payments for pensions and medical insurance were not paid in accordance with Chinese law. For example, a worker making an Olympic mascot could be paid as little as £26 a week, while a mascot can retail for around £20. An average living wage is around £225 a month.
  • Excessive overtime, sometimes up to 100 hours a month, nearly three times the legal limit in China. Some workers were doing 24-hour shifts, while others were working seven days a week. Overtime was often compulsory.
  • Child labour was used in the factory producing pin badges.
  • Workers were locked into a five-year contract and had to pay a fine if they tried to leave beforehand. At one factory, workers were not given a contract of employment, and in the other factory, workers did not receive pay-slips. In both factories, workers did not fully understand how their wages and over-time were calculated.
  • Workers did not receive health and safety training in both factories, and would tend to forgo wearing protective equipment, when provided, so they could work faster and earn more – to top up their poverty pay.
  • Workers were prevented from joining unions in both factories, and it was made clear to them that anyone engaging in trade union activities would be dismissed.
  • Evidence of audit fraud – with workers coached on how to answer auditor’s questions, and in some cases bribed to give the correct answers.

An ethical Olympics?

Twitter shut down account of opponents of London 2012 Olympics

May 23, 2012

The Twitter account of protest group Space Hijackers has been suspended following a complaint by the organisers of the London 2012 Olympics.

Once again we are seeing the copyright thugs in action. Draconian legislation has been passed to protect the branding of the London 2012 Olympics and their sponsors.

For residents of London, the London 2012 Olympics will be a nightmare summer.

Space Hijackers, whose account has been blocked following a complaint by the London 2012 Olympics, were hardly likely to bring down the International Olympic Committee (more’s the pity) and capitalism along with it (not through Twitter at least). One can only conclude that this is an act of petty, vindictive censorship, hardly in the spirit of plurality and inclusiveness the Olympics is supposed to promote.

And who are the major the sponsors of the London 2012 Games, not the brands who are being protected, but the public. The long-suffereing public who in London at least are going to have a summer of misery whilst the unwanted Games take place.

Shame on twitter who gave in to the London 2012 Olympics.

London’s dystopian Olympics: criminal sanctions for violating the exclusivity of sponsors’ brands

April 14, 2012

As London ramps up for the 2012 Olympics, a dystopian regime of policing and censorship on behalf of the games’ sponsors is coming online. A special squad of “brand police” will have the power to force pubs to take down signs advertising “watch the games on our TV,” to sticker over the brand-names of products at games venues where those products were made by companies other than the games’ sponsors, to send takedown notices to YouTube and Facebook if attendees at the games have the audacity to post their personal images for their friends to see, and more. What’s more, these rules are not merely civil laws, but criminal ones, so violating the sanctity of an Olympic sponsor could end up with prison time for Londoners.

Esther Addley documents the extent of London’s corporatism for The Guardian:

“It is certainly very tough legislation,” says Paul Jordan, a partner and marketing specialist at law firm Bristows, which is advising both official sponsors and non-sponsoring businesses on the new laws. “Every major brand in the world would give their eye teeth to have [a piece of legislation] like this. One can imagine something like a Google or a Microsoft would be delighted to have some very special recognition of their brand in the way that clearly the IOC has.”

As well as introducing an additional layer of protection around the word “Olympics”, the five-rings symbol and the Games’ mottoes, the major change of the legislation is to outlaw unauthorised “association”. This bars non-sponsors from employing images or wording that might suggest too close a link with the Games. Expressions likely to be considered a breach of the rules would include any two of the following list: “Games, Two Thousand and Twelve, 2012, Twenty-Twelve”.

Using one of those words with London, medals, sponsors, summer, gold, silver or bronze is another likely breach. The two-word rule is not fixed, however: an event called the “Great Exhibition 2012” was threatened with legal action last year under the Act over its use of “2012” (Locog later withdrew its objection).

The London Olympic bid insisted that these restrictions were necessary to get the sponsors, and of course, they were bidding against other cities who were also making promises to police their residents’ free speech and personal expression. Each games’ sponsor doubles down on the previous games’ restrictions and surveillance, which suggests that by 2020, the winning bid will include a promise to imprison all non-attendees for the duration of the games, and permanently tattoo sponsors’ logos on the faces and chests of all ticket-buyers.

Posted by Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing.

If UK Uncut or anyone else wishes to sabotage the games, then be outside the venues with unauthorised branding.

London’s dystopian Olympics: criminal sanctions for violating the exclusivity of sponsors’ brands
Olympics 2012: branding ‘police’ to protect sponsors’ exclusive rights

Rio 2016

October 5, 2009
Rio 2016 press conference

Rio 2016 press conference

Rio 2016 Pele y Paulo

Rio 2016 Pele y Paulo

‘I confess to you if I die right now my life would have been worth it.’ — Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazilian president

‘Read Brazilian pundits on Rio 2016: MBA in stupidity!’ — Paul Coelho, Rio 2016 team

‘Just told my Brazilian friends that I will fulfill my promise: To be upside down on the eve of the Olympics in Rio.’ — Paul Coelho, Rio 2016 team

London got the 2012 Olympics, but many Londoners did not want it. Chicago wanted 2016, but despite or maybe because of the intervention by President Obama, did not get it.

Rio wanted it and got it.

The winning team at Copenhagen included footballer Pele and writer Paulo Coelho.

I have never been to Rio. My only ‘experience’ is therefore through the films Favela Rising and City of God. Favela Rising I saw at the Beyond TV film festival a couple of years ago. City of God I have seen more recently. Both feature the violence of the favelas.

And through the music of AfroReggae, a group that has its roots in the violence of the favelas. A few years ago,  AfroReggae were the act that opened the Rolling Stones concert in Rio, the start of a world tour by the Stones

Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho starts with a girl being picked up on Rio’s famous Copacabana beach. The action then quickly moves to Europe. The only novel by Paulo Coelho that has any setting in Brazil.

After Rio was awarded the 2016 Olympics, Paulo Coelho told his Brazilian friends that he will fulfill his promise to be upside down on the eve of the Olympics in Brazil. He will then be aged 70. Some weird Brazilian tradition?

The Olympics leaves behind a toxic legacy to all the cities that host it. More a curse than a blessing. Two weeks of glory, decades of counting the cost.  London 2012 has already destroyed many small businesses and wildlife habitats. Let us hope Rio fares better.

Brazil will now host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics two years later.

World attention will now be focused on Brazil. The world has given Brazil the Olympics, it is now time for Brazil to give something to the world, to protect the Amazon rainforest.

Many thanks to Paulo Coelho for sending me the pictures of the Rio 2016 team in Copenhagen.

Note this is a repost of same article from 3 October 2009, which for reasons unknown will not let me add tags, nor does it appear on main blog! Rio 2016

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